Sister act

Shani and Denee Francese-Smith of Sissy’s Café (photo by Julie O’Connor)

Sissy’s Café on Wall Street in Kingston is all about offering choices. Open since June of this year, proprietors (and sisters) Shani and Denee Francese-Smith offer a breakfast and lunch menu that gives equal time to vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free and organic options along with traditional meat and cheese selections.

The two most popular sandwiches at Sissy’s, says Shani, are at opposite ends of the spectrum: One is the “Hot Bird,” a panini for meat-eaters with turkey and bacon along with red onion, avocado and spicy mayo with cheddar cheese, and the other a vegan “Veggie Delight,” made with sauerkraut, veganaise (a no-egg mayonnaiselike spread), tomato, avocado, red onions, sprouts and Fakin’ Bacon (smoky strips of soy-based tempeh). Both sandwiches cost $8.

The sisters, originally from New Paltz, previously worked in and managed restaurants, says Shani, so when the space at 324 Wall Street became available earlier this year, opening a café seemed a logical extension of what they’d been doing. Besides, they both love good food. “We’re going for a classic deli, but with a twist,” she says. They’d like to offer dinner eventually, but for now are easing into things with hours on Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The cozy interior of Sissy’s Café seats 24 and features a juice-and-smoothie bar built by the sisters’ father. Kombucha is on tap: an effervescent fermented tea beverage, served cold, that delivers digestive health benefits, loaded as it is with all the good kinds of bacteria and yeast, along with active enzymes and amino acids. Currently Sissy’s is offering two flavors of kombucha, a ginger and a red currant, but those will rotate just as bars rotate their beers on draft. A cup of it goes for $3 – cheaper, says Shani, than buying a bottle of it at the health food store. They also offer fresh-squeezed juices and creamy smoothies made with flaxseed, some of them filling and nutritious enough to substitute as a meal.

The Kingston area is up-and-coming, says Shani, and the time is right to offer healthy alternatives for lunch. Gluten-free is becoming increasingly popular, she says, as more people find that even if they’re not allergic to gluten, they feel better when they eliminate it from their diet. Using fresh ingredients and locally sourced produce, the sisters plan to keep the menu selections a constant flow of new ideas and creative takes on the classics.

Sandwiches start at $5.25. Paninis topped with imaginative pairings like goat cheese and pickled beets range from $8 to $9, with a “Sweet Tooth” panini of banana and Nutella at $6. A variety of entrée-sized salads are offered, and everything can be customized, says Shani. The breakfast menu starts at $2.50 for an egg-and-cheese-on-hard-roll and features a selection of breakfast wraps at $6.25, like the “Greek Wrap” made with eggs, spinach, olive tapenade and feta. Fresh baked goods will vary, the selection currently including berry or chocolate scones. A full-on steak-and-egg breakfast made with grilled roast beef and horseradish mayo is available at $6.75.

Sissy’s Café is located at 324 Wall Street in Kingston. Hours are Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information and the menu, visit or call (845) 514-2336.

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